What to Do If Your Car Catches Fire–Car Fires Are More Common Than You Think
Vehicle fires are one of the scariest things that can happen on the road and they happen more often than you think. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says 33 car fires are reported every hour in the U.S., and 18 percent of all reported fires occur on a road or highway and involve a motor vehicle. Teens and young adults with driver’s licenses are most likely to be involved in car fire accidents, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System, and young males are victims more often than females.
These statistics, while sobering, don’t mean you should worry that your vehicle is going to spontaneously combust on your drive home from work. But safe driving and regular maintenance are important to reducing your chances of being involved in one of these incidents.
Cars can catch fire for all sorts of reasons. Most of the time, it is because of accidents. If a car gets hit in its gas tank or the engine has taken a severe hit, a slight spark or electrical impulse, such as when batteries get ruptured, can cause a fire. Poorly maintained cars can catch fire too. Leaking gas lines, head gaskets, cracked blocks, cracked radiators, leaking fuel lines, and the list goes on, are all potential fire hazards. This is the reason why you change your fluids, especially oil every so many thousand miles. Doing so helps keeps your car’s seals intact a long time. Pretty much all of a car’s fluids including the car itself are flammable. Usually heat and electrical sparks plus a leaking automotive fluid (doesn’t matter which one) is all it takes for a vehicle fire to start.
Here are a few common-sense tips that can help prevent vehicle fires, provided by the National Safety Council:
While you are moving on a roadway:
1. Signal your intentions and move to the right lane.
2. Get onto the shoulder or breakdown lane.
3. Stop immediately.
4. Shut off the engine.
5. Get yourself and all other persons out of the vehicle.
6. Get far away from the vehicle and stay away from it. Keep onlookers and others away.
7. Warn oncoming traffic.
8. Notify the fire department. CALL 9 1 1
9. Dont attempt to try to put out the fire yourself. (The unseen danger is the possible ignition of fuel in the vehicles tank.)
While the vehicle is stopped in traffic or parked:
1. Shut off the engine.
2. Get far away from the vehicle.
3. Warn pedestrians and other vehicles to stay away.
4. Notify the fire department. CALL 9 1 1
5. Dont attempt to try to put out the fire yourself. (The unseen danger is the possible ignition of fuel in the vehicles tank.)
1. If you smell burning plastic or rubber, pull over safely and investigate. Don’t try to make it home before you determine what the trouble is.
2. Get in the habit of having your car tuned up and checked out at least once a year. An inspection should include examining the vehicle for gas or oil leaks. If you suspect a leak, park a newspaper under your vehicle at night and weigh it down with a heavy object; in the morning, check the paper for stains.
3. If a fuse keeps blowing, that’s a sign of electrical trouble, the same as in your house. Don’t let it keep happening without investigating, as an overloaded wire can be the source of a fire.
Dousing the Flames
Most fires, are a result of a malfunctioning fuel line or a fuel pipe splitting. If you smell something burning, shutting off the engine will stop the flow of fuel and may prevent a full-blown fire. It’s natural to panic in an emergency, but make sure you get off the road first so you’re not a hazard to other drivers, or yourself.
Experts counsel not to attempt to extinguish a raging car fire yourself, but there are circumstances when you can try if you have a fire extinguisher. If there is smoke coming from under your hood but no flames, you can crack the hood slightly and spray at the gap from a few feet away. Do not open the hood all the way as the increased oxygen could quickly turn a tiny fire into a big blaze.
However, if the fire is in the rear of the vehicle near the gas tank, you should get away quickly. Only a professional should attempt to douse fires of this sort.
What to Do in a Parking Lot
If your car catches fire while you are driving, the most important thing to do is to remain calm. Then follow these steps, which also apply if your car ignites in a parking lot.
1. Signal and move immediately to the right shoulder, or right lane.
2. Get the vehicles stopped and shut off the engine while getting yourself and all passengers out of the vehicle.
3. Get as far away from the vehicle as you can, at least 150 feet, but make sure the area you move to is safe and secure.
4. Dial 911, so the dispatcher can notify the fire department.
5. Warn onlookers and others to keep away, as well. If you have some signaling device, you can also attempt to warn oncoming traffic.
Ways to help prevent vehicle fires
While some car fires occur in collisions, they are more often caused by problems with a vehicles electrical or fuel system. Your best line of defense is to have these systems checked out at every service call. In between times, look for these potential warning signs:
· Fuses that blow repeatedly
· Spilled oil under the hood left over from an oil change
· Oil or other fluid leaks under the vehicle
· Cracked or loose wiring, or wiring with exposed metal
· Very loud sounds from the exhaust system
· Rapid changes in fuel level, oil levels, or engine temperature
· A missing cap from the oil filler
· Broken or loose hoses
FIRE SAFETY FIRST, FIRE SAFETY ALWAYS!
Information from Clovis Fire Dept, Farmers Union Insurance, AAA, National Fire Incident Reporting System and NSC
Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Ken Oswald Safety and Security Manager for Plateau keno